Outrage of the Week: Maternity Ward Edition

Hi hekkirftkn
Readers! Here you go!

Dear Free-Range Kids: I just had my first child a couple of months ago and within a day had our first experience with extreme safety proponents. I was in the hospital and a friend had come to meet my son. We decided to go on a walk around the ward, just so that I could stretch my legs. I picked up my son and we had a nice stroll around the ward. As we were heading back to my room one of the nurses yelled at me for carrying my baby around. Apparently, in that hospital, infants are only safe if they are transported in bassinets. Parents need not apply.

I’m sure this is only the beginning! — J.

It sure is, J. But congrats on starting the journey! (Even if the hospital says you did it wrong.)– Lenore

83 Responses to Outrage of the Week: Maternity Ward Edition

  1. Brendan November 11, 2009 at 11:41 am #

    This is standard in the IHC hospitals that I have been in (in Utah). You can only hold your baby in your room.

  2. surflife November 11, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    What where you thinking – modeling healthy behavior at such an early age going for a walk really- keep this us and the child will want to play outside in the very dangerous world !! I am so gald that my kids are getting older – this is getting beyond a joke – your child you take him where and how you want to – althought hold off on the skydiving for a year!!

  3. Adryenn Ashley November 11, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    It’s the insurance companies. Can you imagine how many tired new moms there are? And if a woman can sue a furniture store for tripping over a child and twisting her knee (even though it was her own child) then the hospital is just covering their ass-ets.

    Not saying it’s right, just saying that’s the world we live in. Sucks huh?

  4. Rich Demanowski November 11, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    First comes holding the baby, then comes letting them play out in the sun so their skin can synthesize vitamin D.

    This sort of thing MUST be stopped, or the purveyors of snake-oil health products will go out of business, and the entire economy will collapse! 😛

  5. Amy Q November 11, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    Yeah I got that too. Crazy rules. Too bad that seems to be only the beginning once you have a child.

  6. Heidi November 11, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    Yup, add me to the list of having that happen to. Stupid stupid stupid. Its one of the reasons I wish my husband would agree to having a home birth. That I hate the way hospitals treat childbirth. Its like its a disease (although I must admit, some places aren’t as bad as others anymore).

  7. Ingrid November 11, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    My impression was that it had something to do with baby stealing, but it never bothered me (I could hold babies in room of course). Next time you can choose a home birth or a birthing center.

  8. gramomster November 11, 2009 at 12:36 pm #

    @ Heidi…
    See if your husband will watch The Business of Being Born. It’s available on Netflix, even streaming last I looked.

    One hospital birth… HORRIBLE!!! Demerol into my IV port as I’m refusing medication, being told I didn’t really have any idea what I wanted, not allowed to walk during labor… yeah. Good times.

    Two home births. Awesome! Empowering! Absolutely wonderful! Challenging as all get-out, hard work, completely rewarding.

    And to that, let me add that the choice of a good, well-trained midwife who has either medical training or a doctor she can work with as your medical OB, who will provide some monitoring and an ultrasound, is the kind of situation you want to look for. With a back-up OB who’s followed you throughout, that person would take over treatment in the event you needed transport to the hospital, thereby assuring that your wishes for your birth are respected.

    My daughter… had her son very young. Sixteen. She went with midwives in a birthing center. Boy was 8lbs, 12oz, she delivered him in under 8 hours, no tears. What a rock star!

    Some may read this, and reflect back on my comments in the teen freedom thread. Let me say that my daughter had all the information, education, and open communication any kid could ask for. She learned how to use a condom by practicing on produce. I made her demonstrate many times. I took her to the clinic when she came to me and said she thought she was going to cross that sex line soon. She went on the pill. She had been taught thoroughly that sex is best left until later, shared with someone you’ve been with for a long time (in teenager land I told her a year anyway!)… Well, being the very independent, strong-willed young thing that she was, and remains, she set out to do absolutely everything she could, even having all the information as to WHY she shouldn’t easily at hand. Free spirit man. I couldn’t stop her no matter what steps I took, and they were myriad, let me assure you.

    But she’s awesome! She’s done lots of growing up, and is becoming a strong, confident, competent young woman. Yeah, it almost killed me to see a kid who, statistically was the last kid you’d predict to get pregnant, or do stupid drugs. That’s why statistics are probabilities.

    And again, the other kid I raised is a college sophomore at 17 with a 3.97, a girlfriend of over 2 years with whom he has not had sex, a job, living on his own, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, makes his mother bath salt packets at art fairs. Purple, lilac scented. The kid knows his mom. Oh. And plays mandolin in one band and bass in another, both instruments self-taught. He’s also proficient on guitar, piano, violin, banjo, and, of all things, french horn. So…. kids are individuals, no matter what we do. I’m a great parent. I parented two of the most diametrically different kids I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.

    And for those doing the math, the old kid, the hospital birth one, got stolen by his dad when he was 7. I didn’t see him until he was 22. He’s in the Army National Guard, and will be 25 next spring.

  9. Ashley November 11, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    I have a 4 month old, and the same thing. Until we were on our way out of the hospital (30 hours post c-section), I wasn’t allowed to carry my daughter around.

    Also they called DCFS on me for not giving her medication against a disease I don’t have that it would have been almost impossible for her to get anyways, again due to the c-section. Thankfully the DCFS agent thought it was a grand waste of her time and repeatedly affirmed my rights to make medical decisions for my daughter.

  10. Stacy November 11, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    Well, I guess that was an advantage(?) of having my son in the NICU for 29 days… no risk of being chastised for walking him around the halls during my recovery.

  11. Dot Khan November 11, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    Hospitals are being run too much like a business. Maybe they regarded the baby are their merchandise until it is paid for.

    On a unrelated note, my sister in law is a mid wife and one woman named her child after the first word she saw after the birth … OBGYN

  12. Lori November 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    I had this explained to me in the hospital that it was part of the safety protocol to prevent baby snatching. No one is allowed to walk around a hospital holding a baby – all babies should be in bassinets. So, if they see someone walking around with a baby, they go on immediate alert. There were also special symbols on name tags of anyone who was authorized to take my baby for some reason.

    Iam very free-range, but I was glad for all this in the hospital. I was super paranoid in the hospital and very much out of my element, so the procedures made me feel better. The difference in my case, though, was that they explained all that to me when I arrived, not after I had done something they deemed wrong.

  13. Heidi November 11, 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    They made it seem like I was incapable of holding my child without dropping her, and suing the hospital. Never once did they say anything about it being a safety protocol to prevent baby snatching. Which, for that matter, doesn’t prevent baby snatching, because the person doing the snatching can be smart enough to know the protocol and roll the baby in the bassinet through the hall, until they get to where they can take the baby and leave. So, another “safety” protocol that doesn’t do anything but feed into our fears that babies are being snatched out of hospitals, all the time. I wonder what the statistics are on that, anyway? (babies being snatched out of hospitals?)

  14. Taking a Chance on Baby November 11, 2009 at 1:12 pm #

    Also standard in MA.

    Be wary of The Business of Being Born…it’s super anti-doctor and anti anything post 1400 or so. Homebirths and midwives…maybe it’s right for some, but hey it’s the 21rst century and we have this stuff called PAIN MEDICATION. Hospital births=less infants and moms dying in childbirth…NOT A COINCIDENCE, and yet one the movie likes to ignore in favor of berating those damn doctors and their desire to cut you open for MORE MONEY. And seriously? Ricki Lake? Yeah, not exactly someone I think of a serious journalist. It’s about as unbiased as Fox News.

    While it’s not free range of me to say so, look, it’s a liability issue. All they need is for someone to drop a kid and for the kid to be injured…the hospital is then liable and the damages would ruin them. It sucks, and it’s stupid, but it’s hardly worth circling the wagons over.

  15. Katie November 11, 2009 at 1:27 pm #

    The Business of Being Born is actually an incredible documentary to watch. I am a firm believer in taking most “conventional wisdom” with a grain of salt – after all, how many people “just know” that there are pedophiles and kidnappers “everywhere these days”?

    I feel the same way about hospitals and doctors. I will take my doctor’s advice, get a second opinion, and look into alternative treatments if given the time. For example, I’m due in January. I’m NOT getting an IV, I’m NOT allowing them to strap a fetal monitor to me (intermittent monitoring is fine), I’m NOT allowing them to induce me, and I’m not planning on taking pain medication. If I do need pain meds it’ll be a hit or two of laughing gas to take the edge off. Despite what conventional wisdom would have you believe, epidurals are NOT the healthiest, safest the way to go.

    And the Business of Being Born is right on the money about some things. A very good friend of mine is a maternity ward nurse and she says the shit she’s SEEN doctors do in the name of “hurrying birth along” is hair-raising.

    Also, now when they close you up from a c-section they take your bits out and lay them on your stomach. It’s apparently incredibly nauseating. Count. Me. Out.

  16. Nick November 11, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    Adryenn – it’s not the ‘world’ we live in. This is a peculiarly US and maybe UK thing (not sure about Canada). My wife gave birth to two kids in Australia – 1 in a normal hospital and 1 in a birth centre – and I’ve never heard of anything like this, or anything like most of the stuff I read about on this site. The US seems to have a peculiar attitude towards this, probably largely to do with the particular style of litigation you have and the obscene strength of the insurance industry there.

  17. PottyMouthMommy November 11, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    The reason it is standard practice is for safety reasons.

    The same reasons why heart attack patients aren’t allowed to walk around unsupervised for minimum 48 hours.

    You may well be extremely capable of carrying your child around- OR you may experience dizziness and/or faint due to the blood loss experienced during child birth.

    It’s the hospital’s JOB to ensure that you and your baby’s health and safety are taken care of. And that’s what they did- be outraged if you will- I’m sure you probably wouldn’t hesitate to sue the hospital if you DID fall and hurt yourself or your child stating that you “had no idea it could happen because you felt fine.”

  18. Rich Wilson November 11, 2009 at 1:46 pm #

    Yep, happened to us too. What I really didn’t appreciate was the attitude of the nurse. She acted like I had just done the stupidest thing in the world and had no care or concern for my baby. I know they work long hours and are tired, but really, would it be that hard to assume that the person just didn’t know your silly rule, and wasn’t getting ready to play catch with their newborn?

    And I don’t buy the baby stealing bit. All the babies had alarms that would go off if a) they were cut off b) left the ward or c) got too close to another mom (to prevent accidental baby switching).

  19. Rich Wilson November 11, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    “You may well be extremely capable of carrying your child around- OR you may experience dizziness and/or faint due to the blood loss experienced during child birth.”

    Ya, tell that to us dads… 🙂

  20. Helen November 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    I got the same thing in New York. Along with a whole slew of other inane rules about not leaving your baby alone for a second. Seemed designed to start the paranoia right at the start. It was a shame because the actual birth was great.

    We were also obliged to watch a video and sign a document that included the statement that we agreed it was important for us to watch the video. I edited the document to say I didn’t think it was important. And I was told I had to wait for a wheelchair to take me to the lobby when I left. We snuck out without it. I think I may have been in a bit of a bad mood by the time we left 🙂

    I’d assumed most of the no walking with baby thing was about being sued for falls – if it’s about abductions it’s even more absurd.

  21. Andy in Germany November 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    Never heard of that here- We’ve had three babies in two different hospitals. Parents are advised and helped but we can decide how we look after their babies from the word go. If that means carrying them, then they are free to do so.

  22. Andy in Germany November 11, 2009 at 5:14 pm #

    Er… that should read

    “we can decide how we look after OUR babies from the word go. ”

    Brainstorm again.

  23. Marcy November 11, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

    I wonder what the stats are on dads fainting due to flashbacks to the delivery room 😉

    I guess this story parallels the need to be in a wheelchair until you get to the front doors on discharge, even though you are about to be DISCHARGED!!

    It wasn’t until I had my third baby that I had enough gumption to challenge those nurses who seemed to think bullying new moms is a good thing.

  24. Salguod November 11, 2009 at 7:05 pm #

    We had this problem at Mt. Sinai this year. NOBODY, including the father (that is, me) was allowed to walk around with the baby. While this may be some febrile lawyer’s twisted vision of a safety measure, it’s completely absurd.

    In addition to this ridiculous policy, each baby had an RFID tag attached — kind of an infant anti-shoplifting system — and posters cautioning you against taking the baby past the RFID scanners at the elevators.

    Whether it’s a disproportionate reaction to slip-and-fall concerns or more over-the-top anti-snatching paranoia, the idea that you can’t trust a parent to walk around a perfectly flat hallway with their baby, immediately prior to pushing them out the door onto the streets of New York City, is — a bit rich.

  25. Nancy November 11, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    You should all be less angry at the Hospital and more angry at the legal system.
    Labor/Delivery is one of the highest areas of any hospital for law suits. A pt at a hospital where I worked sued and WON a case for experiencing pain during labor and delivery.
    If a mother is walking down the hallway (espcially after recieving pain meds) and falls, the hospital gets sued.

    The other thing to consider it safety. The mom is at a higher risk of falling for the first few days after birth due to blood loss during delivery. Babies also lack clotting factors after birth, and need a few days for that process to work. If a baby is dropped in those first few days, there is a higher chance of hemmorhage leading to death.
    There are those who call it ‘bullying’ but the truth is that hospitals have an obligation to keep their patients safe. Nurses also have the right to protect themselves from law suits that cost their lisences.

    The rules seem stupid, but if everyone in this country wsa willing to take responsibility for their actions rather than suing, the hospital would be a lot more open to allowing such things.

  26. Jenn November 11, 2009 at 8:08 pm #

    Nancy said: “The rules seem stupid, but if everyone in this country wsa willing to take responsibility for their actions rather than suing, the hospital would be a lot more open to allowing such things”

    That’s it exactly. The fear is not so much that someone will drop a baby or steal a baby, it’s that the hospital will get sued if someone drops a baby or steals a baby. The hospital’s main concern is protecting their bottom line, not the health of the patients. This is, after all, a no-fault country. If anyone does something stupid and gets hurt, it’s not their fault. It’s the fault of whoever is nearby with the deepest pockets.

  27. Marcy November 11, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    I had that happen to me too, with #1 child. My hospital for #3 was much more laid back about things. They had the RULE but enforcement was different. I found that out when I went to get my daughter from the nurses (after I had had a shower) and they were all taking turns carrying her around!

  28. charles November 11, 2009 at 9:16 pm #

    I would say that a mother not being allowed to carry the baby is absurd. A lot of the protocol in a hospital around childbirth may be absurd and I can see how this would lead many people to want to have a home birth. Prior to someone having a home birth though I do want to ask how the family’s neo-natal intensive care unit is?

    I think it is wrong if a hospital forces an expectant mother do something (ie take drugs) or not allow her to do something (carry baby). I would however think that most mothers would not want to leave anything to chance and place that will have the widest variety of options in case of emergency is a hospital.

    An Anecdote:
    My Father was a white male, my step mother is Chinese. When my half-sister was born they were living in Vermont. For anyone who does not know, Vermont does not have a very large Asian population and probably 99% of births at the hospital in southern Vermont that we went to for the birth are white infants. So my father was standing there looking through the glass at his newborn daughter when a nurse came up, looked at the baby and exclaimed “She’s Jaundiced!!!!” suddenly 5 nurses started moving all over grabbing the baby starting to order tests etc etc.

    My father just stood there with his head in his hands, he sighed and grabbed the nurse who was holding my sister and merely said “She’s not Jaundiced, She’s asian.”

    This stopped all the nurses dead in there tracks. It was hysterical.

  29. Mae Mae November 11, 2009 at 9:28 pm #

    That is hilarious, Charles. I don’t know if I would have been offended in that situation or doubled over laughing at their sudden hysteria. Thanks for the laugh.

  30. Nicole November 11, 2009 at 9:28 pm #

    This is obviously just a liability thing – they don’t want to get sued! Could you imagine that the new mom slips and drops the baby or hurts the baby in some other way? Most families (unfortunately) would immediately sue the hospital, even if it was unpreventable on their part. So they just say it’s not allowed. Yes, its absurd that hospitals have to make these rules and insult new parents this way but its better than them going out of business because of law suits.

    As for a home birth, yes you dont have to deal with these silly rules. But that’s not an option for everyone and there are A LOT of hospitals that will allow you a natural, drug-free, IV-free birth. So, go easy on those who choose to do it the latter way. There is no right solution for everyone and plenty of women are really happy that they had that epidural. Or NICU.

  31. pcj November 11, 2009 at 9:44 pm #

    Oh please – why, in this community of “free range” and supportive people does everyone jump on the judgment band wagon as soon as it comes around? Home births aren’t for everyone. Hospitals aren’t always evil drug pushers and rules are always all about inconveniencing you personally.

    6 month old boy here – the hospital (MA) explained to us when we checked them out that babies had to be in bassinets when outside the room for several reasons:

    Safety – if there was any kind of emergency, the corridors would be full of running, shouting people – not the best place for new, nervous mom and her babe in arms.

    Security – if they saw anyone with a babe in arms, not in a bassinet, they would watch them carefully to see how close they got to the exit, or if they had a matching arm band on. They had recent experience of a disgruntled father trying to sneak a baby out of another moms room while she slept. We took this seriously (and not in the “omg, predators are everywhere!! ARG!” attitude).

    They also apologized for the rules. They weren’t monsters about it.

    We had a great hospital stay, we understood and appreciated the rules there and didn’t feel oppressed or otherwise inconvenienced by them. They didn’t push drugs on us, make us do anything we weren’t comfortable with or requested. They took awesome care of my wife and her many food allergies (specially preparing every meal in an allergen free portion of a commercial kitchen is no small thing when you’re somewhere for three days).

    From reading the comments here, sounds like this was the exception. I don’t believe it is, considering how many people get hospital births in general.

  32. Jerri November 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

    The hospital were I had both of my kids had the same rule, you can’t walk around the halls holding the baby. But they didn’t yell it at me or make me feel insulted. They simply told me the rule up front. I really didn’t care. I stayed in my room the whole time anyway.

  33. Laurie November 11, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    My baby is now two years-old so I’m a little fuzzy on what the rules were (to be honest they explained all the rules when I got to the recovery room at 3 AM so I’m not sure I ever fully comprehended them). I also had to keep the baby in the bassinet when I went for walks in the hallways but I was okay with that. I was happy to have something to hold on to.

    I do remember when I told the nurse we wanted the baby to room in with us she told us someone had to remain awake whenever the baby was in the room. I can assure you we did not comply with that rule! And it was not enforced.

  34. Helen November 11, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    Pcj – It’s true there is a lot of outrage that seems disproportionate. But the problem is that there are so many of these rules that individually can be explained, but the consequence of all of them together is asignificant deterioration in the quality of experience for many people. And it seems that institutions focus on details and edge cases – like the chance of a baby being abducted while neglecting the big picture. The big picture being that most parents don’t need these rules but do need an environment that will help them go home as confident I’m their ability to parent as possible. Being subjected to rules that make no sense for the majority of them will likely make at least some parents think they need to be much more cautious than they do. Not to mention the inconvenience and loss of joyvthat many of the regulations bring.

    I’m sympathetic to the lawsuit issue. Rules brought in because of the fear of lawsuits are annoying but I don’t, personally, place all the blame for those on the institutions.

    None of which makes it appropriate for nurses to berate a parent who fails to follow the rules though. My own experience of childbirth in hospital was mixed, great delivery, good to fantastic daytime nursing staff, poor physical condition of the ward, fair food, absolutely terrible nighttime nursing staff (and from other mothers I’ve talked to in the US and the UK that seems to be a very common phenomenon).

  35. Marion November 11, 2009 at 11:37 pm #

    They had the same rule in the hospital when I gave birth nearly 12 years ago.

    I might drop the baby? I was just as likely to drop the baby once I got home, and was walking about sleep-deprived for a month or more.

    Kidnap the baby? They have buzzers and sensors everywhere, not to mention every time a nurse saw me she checked both mine and the baby’s name tags.

    I realize the hospital is doing what it has to do, but it is a bit depressing.

  36. morninglightmama November 12, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    One of the many, many reasons why I opted to never step foot in a hospital when I was having my babies. In a birth center, not only did I get to let my body be in charge of my labor and delivery, I got to hold my baby AND be free to go home as soon as I felt ready, where I could live under my own “policies” right from the get go. 🙂

  37. Nancy November 12, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    Hospital rules may be ‘depressing’, but should also be a bit reassuring. They are looking out for the safety of you and your baby. People are very quick to call hospitals ‘evil’ when they really are not.

    It has been a while since I had my baby, but I was grateful for a hospital staff that monitored me, and intervened when I needed it. I took home a perfectly healthy baby!

    I took home MY baby because nurses did check my armband, and I also felt very reassured knowing that they had protocol and were very cautious regarding infant abduction.

    Okay, I did not get to carry my baby in the hall, but my friend who had a stillbirth never got to carry hers either.
    The focus needs to be on the fact that healthy babies are being born. The food choices, the inconveniences, using the bassinette in the hallway (not in your room), etc are all really unimportant in the big scheme of things.

  38. sylvia_rachel November 12, 2009 at 12:43 am #

    The hospital where I had my daughter (7+ years ago) had that rule. It was annoying — she shrieked her tiny head off whenever someone put her in the bassinet, and also the bassinet’s wheels didn’t work right, so it was a lot of work pushing it — but we were only on the postpartum floor for a day and a half and I only took her out of my (nice big private) room (with fold-out bed for baby’s other parent) maybe twice, to go to the “breastfeeding class” down the hall. The hospital has full rooming-in (there’s no nursery at all except the level III NICU), fathers/partners are allowed to stay overnight and siblings can visit anytime, and the nurses mostly pretended not to notice that the baby was in bed with me all the time, so actually my postpartum hospital experience was pretty good.

    Should we be lucky enough to do this again, my plan is to go back to the same hospital, but under the care of a midwife rather than an OB.

  39. thordora November 12, 2009 at 12:49 am #

    We walked all over the place with our kids when they were born-worst that happened was being reminded that the cafe near the front doors might not be the best place for something with a new immune system.

    But, we’re in Canada so….

  40. Steve November 12, 2009 at 12:50 am #

    I got the same finger-wag carrying my son around the maternity ward. The silly thing is we would have already gone home if they hadn’t been so insistent that we stay another day.

  41. gramomster November 12, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    @Taking a chance on baby…

    Actually, research bears out that the overuse of medication in hospitals vs well-trained midwives = MORE complications at hospital. While yes, if there are birth-related complications, it’s good that a hospital is nearby. If it is a complication-free birth, being in a hospital increases the likelihood of complication, c-section etc. We have a c-section rate triple what the WHO deems appropriate, safe and necessary, and we have one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the industrialized world, as well as being one of the few industrialized societies to use doctors rather than midwives. Coincidence?

  42. Q November 12, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    I did faint in the 24 hours after my son was born–fell right against a NICU nurse. It happens. And you can’t predict who it will happen to. (I didn’t have pain meds in the very uncomplicated delivery, I was otherwise healthy and well-nourished and all that.)

  43. pipu November 12, 2009 at 12:54 am #

    Wow, another disheartening thread of comments on this blog.

    To all the people defending the hospital, saying it’s for “safety” and being thankful they have these rules in place: this is ABSOLUTELY a free range issue. I have no problem with a hospital (or school, or government agency) giving me SUGGESTIONS about how to care for my child. I wholeheartedly object to said organization giving me MANDATORY RULES about how to care for my child. Seriously, do you guys not see the connection between a situation of “well, one new mom might drop her baby and then sue us” and the other, bigger (scarier) rule systems put in place telling you how to parent? The neighborhood organizations forbidding kids from playing outside, the school forbidding kids from riding their bike to school (escorted by a parent!), the mom who got arrested for child endangerment for letting her kids go to the mall, the countless cases of children removed from their homes by CPS during investigations of innocent, normal family behavior… the list goes on.

  44. Katja November 12, 2009 at 1:27 am #

    I agree, pipu. I am more and more disheartened by these statements as well. There are too many rules in place constraining people in their parenting and rights to an extent that is bad for society. I am thinking of leaving the country, because I simply cannot stand this rule driven and unfree nation anymore. Although, inother countries it might not be optimal, they at least understand to leave parenting in parents hand.

  45. K November 12, 2009 at 1:32 am #

    Hospitals are full of Draconian rules – many of which are not only not to support your baby (or you) or protect anyone. Many hospital “rules” particularly around OB – are not supported by the best scientific evidence.

    In the 27 countries with lower infant mortality, c-section, and maternal mortality rates than ours – homebirth supported by midwives is more common (often standard).

    Many of our medical “rules” are supported by the American Medical Association (and, for obstetrics, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology). These associations are not merely academic, they are also (in essence) trade-unions and oppose any movements that may hinder their bottom line. Opposition to homebirth is just that, opposing the best data and protectionist.

    In the hospital, you are not given the impression that you are the parents, in charge or responsible until after you leave. You may also be given a barrage of misinformation in the process (that was certainly my experience).

    Homebirth midwives support healthy birth and healthy families. A good midwife also knows when we need a surgeon’s assistance. You can always transfer care, and true emergencies are vanishingly rare in natural birth (much more common in the medical model of birth). That is why (with no decrease in fetal or maternal success) homebirth with midwives resulted in a 12% transfer to hospital rate and an 8% c-section rate in 2004, where low-risk hospital births that year in the U.S. had a 32% c-section rate – ouch!

  46. Helen November 12, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    Pipu – very well put.

  47. Jennifer November 12, 2009 at 1:51 am #

    I had to have a Csection with my third daughter and they insisted I could only transport her out of the hospital IN her carseat seated on my lap. That hurt so much. With my first two daughters I could carry them on my lap in the wheelchair. It’s ridiculous. My husband also got yelled at for allowing the baby to sleep on his chest while he dosed in the room. sigh… I wonder if we have a 4th child if there’s a consent/release form you can sign to able to parent your baby as you see fit?

  48. AirborneVet November 12, 2009 at 2:22 am #

    Yep. I was told the same thing. I was allowed to hold my son while sitting, but not standing. He had to be in the bassinet. Apparently, the reasoning is one is too weak after giving birth, or in my case, having a c-section. And this was at least two days after! I was in for a week due to complications during the procedure.

  49. pentamom November 12, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    The hospital DOES need to protect itself. It’s all well and good to say “they should trust me,” but not everyone is you. As others have said, be outraged at the legal system and your fellow citizens who will sue big pockets for ordinary accidents or unavoidable situations. Don’t be outraged at the hospital for doing what it can to protect itself while you choose to avail yourself of its services.

  50. Sky November 12, 2009 at 3:12 am #

    This reminds me of a funny story. When my brother-in-law’s wife was having a baby, another couple who had had a baby was not being permitted to leave the hospital becuase they had no car seat. The couple spoke Spanish, so after some stumbling and translating, they finally got across the point that they had to have a car seat before they would let them leave the hospital. So the father got a car seat (someone leant it to him, I think), and my brother-in-law watched the couple leave the hospital…and get on a bus, one carrying the baby, the other the car seat. They didn’t own a car, and that’s why they didn’t have a car seat.

  51. Ashley November 12, 2009 at 3:13 am #

    Nancy, I have no idea what the situation in that lawsuit you’re talking about, but what I’m truly pissed about in my labor can be boiled down to “experiencing pain.”

    You see, I was a homebirth transfer. After 34 hours at home I went to the hospital hoping for an epidural to get a break and then push the baby out (turns out she was a face presentation and my c-section was truly necessary and thankfully totally uncoerced). I go to the hospital and they hook me up to the IV but refuse to let me see a doctor. I’m strapped to the bed with the fetal monitors and oxygen mask because apparently my baby wasn’t getting enough oxygen during contractions and I needed to lay there, not moving, in the single most painful position I’d yet been in during my labor, and it was too dangerous to give me any meds. I wasn’t allowed any pain relief, and I wasn’t allowed to do the things I had been doing (moving around, getting in the shower) to deal with the pain. And I wasn’t allowed to see a doctor.

    So I was strapped to the bed in a stress position denied food, water, and medical care IN A HOSPITAL for 6 hours before they cut me open and took out all my girly bits.

    Had anything worse happened, I would have sued and would have won.

    They let me go home 30 hours later and I now no longer believe that going to the hospital is the quickest and easiest way to see a doctor.

  52. blotzphoto November 12, 2009 at 4:00 am #

    “The rules seem stupid, but if everyone in this country wsa willing to take responsibility for their actions rather than suing, the hospital would be a lot more open to allowing such things.”

    Please Google “The Myth of Frivolous Lawsuits”.
    Or read here

    There’s no excuse for a web savvy movement like ours to perpetuate such nonsense, especially when its is the same nature as the alarmist misinformation that Lenore has taught us to avoid.

  53. Jenne November 12, 2009 at 4:44 am #

    In the hospital where my son was born, we were allowed to hold him & carry him around the room (and in the nursery, lounge, etc.) Just not in the halls. NOBODY, not doctors, not nurses, not moms, not dads, not grandmas, not lactation consultants was allowed to carry the baby in the hall.

    Since I had a C-section, I didn’t have any trouble with this rule; all the times I spent walking him back and forth from the nursery the rolling bassinet gave me something to lean on.

    But I was told up-front, when I toured the labor wing, that that was the way it worked. So of all the things I hated about my birth experience, that so wasn’t one of them.

  54. Michelle November 12, 2009 at 5:15 am #

    The nurses when my son was born were kinda pushy, which turned me into a bitch real fast. I had a cesarean because of some complications, and even was on I.V. I wanted to bottle feed because apparently whatever came out of my breasts wasn’t enough for him, and the nurse wouldn’t get me any formula. But she would go get a breast pump machine(you’ll never feel more like a cow than when you got those hooked on to your titties). My hubby walked with my son a little down the hall, and no one bothered him, they were more lax, but I am sure if he tried to walk out they wouldn’t let him. They don’t let you leave the floor unless the little plastic bracelets match,and you can’t leave the hospital without a baby carrier or registering them. One nurse seemed like she kept preventing me from leaving, kept saying I had to be shown how to wash a baby and stuff like that. Seriously. She was like “you can go today if you want but a nurse has to come and show you how to wash a baby first” Like, wow. Washing a baby is just so complicated. Finally, I was like “that’s it, taking too long, I am out” and she told me how to wash him which took 20 seconds instead of waiting an hour so far for a nurse to show up, lol.

  55. Michelle November 12, 2009 at 5:25 am #

    PJC: They had recent experience of a disgruntled father trying to sneak a baby out of another moms room while she slept. We took this seriously (and not in the “omg, predators are everywhere!! ARG!” attitude).””

    What? Seriously? That is messed up.

  56. deanne November 12, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    I, too am a bit disheartened to see a debate of free-range degrade into hostility. I’m particularly taken aback by the generalizations directed at medical professionals based on a few personal experiences. Talk of “ripping out girly bits” during a c-section? As an operating room nurse it sounds like standard practice to check behind the uterus for blood pooling, not some mysogynist liberty-taking on the part of the surgeon. I like to think that my job is to help save lives, not be part of an evil, male dominated conspiracy to take away the freedom of mothers and make money from harming their babies.
    I totally respect the rights of moms to make INFORMED choices about their birth based on science. Many other countries have successfully integrated midwife/homebirth options with the hospital model and have better outcomes than in North America.
    However, having been in a room where woman who was labouring normally only 10 minutes ago is undergoing an emergency c-section for sudden fetal distress, seeing a floppy purple baby pulled out and transform into a squalling pink bundle after a few minutes attention from the team, and knowing that he or she was only minutes from death or severe disability, I had no qualms about going the hospital route for my own daughter’s birth. I could live with the silly rules in exchange for the peace of mind.
    I wish that free range could just include more critical thinking and less judgement of others choices.

  57. exoteric November 12, 2009 at 7:10 am #

    My sister gave birth for the first time just last week, and her husband was given the same talking too about carrying the baby in the corridor here in Australia, the only difference being that the nurse made it clear that while it was hospital policy that infants be wheeled rather than carried, they couldn’t well stop you. It seems that the hospital having a policy and informing parents of that policy is enough to cover their liability if any thing should anything go wrong.

  58. Mrs. H. November 12, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    Well, you’re a better mom than I am. I was chastised for leaving my room to walk 50 feet down the hall to the nurses’ station to ask a question without bringing the baby with me. Apparently it’s dangerous to leave a baby in a hospital room alone (even one whose door I could see from where I was. AND where I was standing BETWEEN that door and the exit).

    The “tired new mom might drop baby” defense is nonsense. There is no tiredness like the tiredness of a breastfeeding mom a couple months after giving birth, and I don’t remember any hospital staff showing up at my apartment at that point and offering to carry the baby around for me.

    I found the whole experience of delivering a baby at the hospital to be one of being treated like an incompetent idiot, which is great when you realize that at the end of it all they’re going to hand you a two-day-old baby and send you off into the world, apparently to do irreparable harm to him or her.

  59. Dragonwolf November 12, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    Regarding “The Business of Being Born” — I agree that it’s biased. That’s the kind of documentary it is and the nature of such documentaries. There’s a myriad of documentaries that are like that (note: that’s not to say ALL documentaries are like that, but there is certainly a sub-set that are).

    That said, I think it’s still a good one to watch, as it does show some of the things that hospitals actually do (as also verified by other people here and elsewhere) and helps dispel myths about midwives and home births.

    For example, someone here mentioned that hospital births are safer than home births. However, the United States, which has the highest rate of hospital births (as opposed to home births or births at birthing centers), also has one of the highest C-section rate (33%; according to the WHO, anything above 10-15% does more harm than good) AND infant mortality rate (~6.85 per 1,000 live births) of any First World countries (and by “one of,” some of the recent stats that I’ve found put the US at like, second worst, if not THE worst for these stats).

    Is that because we don’t really do home births anymore? It could be one reason, especially considering the cultural differences between a home birth and a hospital birth (a midwife-led birth is more likely to use movement to correctly position a baby in breach, as opposed to immediately jumping to a C-section, for example). Is it necessarily the only reason? Probably not. Obesity and poor rates of prenatal care are rampant in the US, which increase risk factors for complications, premature labor, and other things. I’d be more inclined to think the problem isn’t as black and white as advocates of either side make it out to be.

    I think the movie is worth watching, if for no other reason than to learn some things about midwifery and spark an interest in doing more research with it. As with all documentaries with an agenda, the movie as whole should be taken with a grain of salt, but it does have some good starting points and provides a visual example (as opposed to simply reading about things, which tend to be more abstract to people that haven’t experienced things first hand) of why you need to make sure you do your homework when you’re expecting.

    Regardless of where you decide to give birth (or end up giving birth), it’s good to make sure your wishes are respected as long as there aren’t any dangerous complications (it/when it becomes ACTUALLY medically necessary to intervene with things like drugs or a C-Section, then respecting wishes kind of have to go out the window, but when they decide to do something when the situation doesn’t call for, that’s a completely different matter entirely).

    Regarding the hospital rules about carrying the baby around in the hall–

    I can understand those rules, both from a CYA standpoint from the hospital and as a safety standpoint for everyone (the emergency and people running around the halls is a good example of why that’s not particularly safe, at least in some hospitals). However, it’s common courtesy, and would save a lot of headaches, if patients are made aware of such rules up front, instead of waiting until the patient is out walking around with her newborn and simply yelling at them. I think, too, that a lot more people here would have a more positive response to such rules (even if they still don’t really agree with them)).

  60. Beth November 12, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    It’s been 18 years (almost to the day) since I had my last baby, so I am amazed to read about these rules, and especially about the alarms on babies. I too would be extremely interested in seeing reputable statistics about how many babies are snatched in hospitals. You’d think it would be a TON if all babies have alarms on them…but I’m betting it’s not.

  61. Tracy Lucas November 12, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    Agree with Lori (waaaay above, up there somewhere) and was told this in my childbirthing class last year, too.

    It’s an abduction thing, mostly. And a good one, as far as I’m concerned.

    Another thought may be that mothers are anxious to get to the business of mothering; I was.

    The hospital suggested (not commanded, not cajoled) that I shouldn’t carry my baby around until I went home, since I’d had 14 hours of labor plus an emergency C-section to deliver him, and lifting even six pounds could be hard on my torn-up body.

    I thought it was pretty dumb, but couldn’t manage to get out of the bed for awhile anyway, so I let it go.

    And then two days after my C-section, I fainted cold in the hospital bathroom. If I’d been holding my kid, I’d have landed on him.

    Not saying carrying your baby is a bad thing; of course not!

    But if you’re still actually IN the hospital, birth was a REALLY recent thing, and overextending yourself can be an issue in certain circumstances, too.

  62. babelbabe November 12, 2009 at 10:23 am #

    When i was in the hospital giving birth to my first sons, there was security but nothing insane. Right before I gave birth to son number 3, a woman wandered into a local hospital and wandered out with someone else’s baby. Still NO IDEA how she did it. but the security was SO stepped up when I gave birth a month later – and weirdly, I was ok with it. altho the little RFID tag got in the way and i often wanted to say to the nurse, Why would i want to nurse someone else’s child? I dont know what general stats are, but these rules in my case were a response to a real and recent (at the time) local event.

  63. Jen C November 12, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

    I had both of my girls at the same hospital, and they had apparently changed the security measures sometime between the two births. After my second daughter was born, my then-husband and I were told that if neither of us was in the room, then the baby had to go to the nursery. We weren’t allowed to step out of the room and leave her alone with her grandparents!! It was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard! Matching ID bracelets – good. Not being able to leave my sleeping newborn alone with her grandmother for a few minutes while I take a quick stroll around the floor to stretch my legs – incredibly stupid.

  64. Rich Wilson November 12, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    @Sky (Re: family with no car)

    That occurred to me too. We didn’t have a car and lived less than 2 miles from the hospital. If my wife didn’t have stitches we would have walked home with a stroller. I asked about it and was told the hospital can’t prevent you from leaving without a car seat, but will call the police if they think you’re going to get into a car.

    As it was a friend (with a car seat) gave us a ride.

  65. Anna November 12, 2009 at 2:23 pm #

    I agree about the suggestion to watch The Business of Being Born. Great movie/documentary.

  66. sueg November 12, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    And yet they will release these parents and infants to the wild, with no responsible supervision, to ensure that these infants will be carried appropriately….


  67. Sara November 12, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    We giggled at our baby in the hospital, she had one of those tracker ankle bracelets on. We just took pictures and called it “baby’s first security bracelet”. Also, being the escape artist she is, she was always wiggling out of it, so it wouldnt have done much good anyway. hee.

  68. pentamom November 13, 2009 at 12:26 am #

    “And yet they will release these parents and infants to the wild, with no responsible supervision, to ensure that these infants will be carried appropriately….”

    Because they are not responsible past that point. Like you, me, or anyone else, they have different standards for what they concern themselves with when they’re responsible for something, than when they’re not. I assure you I don’t follow other people’s kids who aren’t swimming in my pool around to make sure they’re safe. When they’re in my pool, I have rules. And yes, like it or not, whether it “should be” this way or not, when you’re in the hospital, the hospital’s responsible.

  69. Laura November 13, 2009 at 2:08 am #

    It really didn’t bother me that the hospital had this rule,I guess it made sense to me because I felt so physically weak at the time.
    “The business of being born” is a good documentary, but I don’t think all hospitals need to be criminalized as they are in this movie. It’s more important to be able to ask the right questions to explore your options make sure the hospital or birth place you choose is right for you.

  70. pipu November 13, 2009 at 2:11 am #

    They are not “responsible” for you. They could be held liable for something that happens to you. There is a difference.

    My main objection is to being treated like an invalid/incompetent. In the hospital, I was not allowed to carry my baby in the hall, and was required to be wheeled out to our car in a wheelchair. With my second, I birthed at a freestanding birth center (2 blocks from that hospital, run by the same organization, part of the same insurance plan), where I was treated like a competent individual and walked out on my own (including down a flight of stairs). I always found it very interesting how different the two experiences were, especially considering the birth center is part of the hospital.

  71. E. Simms November 13, 2009 at 2:25 am #

    @Adryenn Ashley “It’s the insurance companies. Can you imagine how many tired new moms there are? And if a woman can sue a furniture store for tripping over a child and twisting her knee (even though it was her own child) then the hospital is just covering their ass-ets.”

    That story is actually an urban myth. http://www.snopes.com/legal/lawsuits.asp The site does list real outrageous lawsuits though.

  72. Ninja Mom November 13, 2009 at 4:26 am #

    This was the rule when I had my first 4 babies in the hospital. It wasn’t the worst part of the experience but it did add to the overall feeling of incompetency. I was also not allowed to use the bathroom in my private room if it meant leaving the baby alone. I had to send them to the nursery if I had to pee.

    I had my 5th baby at home, though, and wasn’t allowed to carry him from the bathroom (where he was born) up to my bedroom, about 20 minutes after birth. That soon after delivery, I’m certain it was for safety reasons. The midwife left an hour or so after birth and then I was able to walk as I saw fit.

  73. CLT November 13, 2009 at 6:15 am #

    After two hospital births, I had my third child at home three weeks ago. My main reason for choosing home was a philosophical disagreement with the “managed care of labor” that they push at the hospital. I think that it does lead to unnecessary interventions that lead to unnecessary C-sections. Midwives are generally a lot more likely to let nature take its course in labor, and not freak out if it takes a little longer. Overall, I didn’t have bad hospital experiences (I had a terrific home experience). I didn’t have any of the post-partum craziness that has been described here. I did wonder what they would do if I told them I was walking home from the hospital, and therefore didn’t have a car seat, but I didn’t live close enough to try it. But I do agree that doctors and hospital staffs, even when they are nice, tend to treat you as incompetent, and if you know a lot but disagree with them, they treat you as really incompetent. And that, I think is a free range issue. If we can’t be free-range adults, how can our kids be free range?

  74. North of 49 November 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm #

    I had a nurse flip out at me after I had my son in the hospital. She assumed I had left him _alone_ in my room.

    She assumed wrong.

    I was wearing a Maya Wrap sling and he was snuggled inside, happy as a clam.

    A week later, I took him to be weighed at the local rec centre and one of the nurses there freaked out cause I had my jacket around him and I while he was in his sling. She was certain he couldn’t breathe.

    He was breathing all right – I could feel his hot breathe right on my naked breast which was right by his mouth. Once again, snug as a bug in his sling.

    Right now, I’m in the middle of a lawsuit because I wasn’t wearing my sling and fell on an area of sidewalk/lawn where I was badly injured to protect my youngest. She was less than a month old. I was badly hurt because my instinct was to protect her, not me, and the management company hadn’t done any maintenance in that area in years. I even have pictures 9 months later showing grass growing up in the crack where I fell. So I’m suing. Even if I had the sling on, I would have been hurt.

  75. Wyngdlyon November 14, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    It’s things like this that make me glad that I had my first kid in a birth center with midwifes and was home 6 hours later and then I had my second kid at home.

  76. Amity November 17, 2009 at 2:37 am #

    The nurses told me the same thing when my niece was born. I was standing just outside my sisters room holding her and a VERY rude nurse told me to put the baby in her bassinet. “someone could come running down the hall and knock her out of your arms!” (her words) I didn’t know it was common practice for people to run up and down the halls in the postpartum wing of the hospital and have total disregard for anyone holding a baby!

  77. bequirox November 17, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    Same thing when I had my baby. We also weren’t supposed to let her sleep in the bed with me. Now they’re also banning kids under the age of 14 from visiting people because we all know they’re the secret breeders of swine flu.

  78. Anna November 17, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    I honestly don’t understand how you can sue a hospital after dropping our child in their hallways. No judge would agree with that lawsuit.

  79. Lihtox November 18, 2009 at 1:42 am #

    We had our daughter at a birth center, and it’s a nice compromise between home births and hospitals: our birth center had diagnostic equipment in the room and an arrangement with the hospital which was just a few blocks down the street. I think it’s too much to blame all hospitals for the idiocy of a few, but it is important that new parents be aware of these issues when deciding where they want to have their baby. It might not even occur to them to ask what the C-section rate at a hospital is, or what their rules are, or what have you.

    @North_of_49: In Chicago I used to see parents on the bus during the winter (or even autumn) with their babies in bassinets, completely covered by blankets, including their faces. Just too cold to do otherwise, and they survive.

  80. laura November 18, 2009 at 3:18 am #

    I had my first child at a hospital, I was 19 at the time and though I was married I was treated as if I were a mentally incompetent monkey. I was yelled at for asking questions, I was cajoled into thinking that my son would die without sugar water from a bottle, I was threatened with child services when I expressed concern about whether bottles would be a good idea in our situation. One of the nurses wrote ‘teenage mother’ on my chart. I was a responsible person, my pregnancy was planned, I was treated like a child. We were not allowed to hold our child outside of the room, we were required to bring a car seat in to prove that we were prepared.
    I decided during my 7th month of my second pregnancy to switch care from a CNM to a CPM to have a homebirth. We moved to a state bordering where we lived to have a place where it was legal to have a Midwife attend a homebirth. Most of the reason for us choosing a homebirth was to ensure that our son would be allowed to be present for the birth and that my choices would be respected. It was a wonderful experience. Our next son was also born at home with the same Midwife attending. The birth was wonderful, I was comfortable with the choices that I had made. Our fourth child was born at home, we had switched Midwives to someone who was closer to our home, they did not arrive in time for the birth, it was the most relaxed birth that I had, I was completely comfortable with our choices.
    When our youngest child was born we had decided that for practical reasons we would have an unattended birth, we were comfortable with our choice. When he was born almost six weeks early at home we monitored his condition and ultimately decided to transfer into the NICU. He was a bit premature and was having a little trouble breathing, we transferred into the hospital. We were treated differently by many of the health care providers, the Residents and nurses were appalled that we had made such choices, they almost all told us that we had risked our son’s life. I was confident that the care that we had provided was equal to that of the NICU, I said as much and was told that I had no idea what I was talking about…. until the Chief of the NICU spoke with me and said that what I had said was true. He said this with Residents, Nurses and my Husband present. He said that our son had been in less danger with us at home, that because we were attentive to his actual issues and that we had provided care that was appropriate that we had saved him from having to be intubated. Because the NICU was in a hospital that is a teaching hospital our son would most likely have been intubated to allow a resident to practice, even if there had not been a great need for the procedure. He supported us in having a homebirth, educating ourselves with the different issues that could come up and recognizing that we needed to transfer. He was respectful, he understood that we were responsible people who understood the risks of birth (uncomplicated and complicated) and knowing that my labors are so quick that we would not have made it to a hospital even if we had tried, it was safer to have a homebirth.
    I cannot say that homebirth is for everyone, the same as I cannot say that hospital or birthing center birth is for everyone, I can say that being informed and comfortable with your choice is for everyone. I do not regret any of the decisions that I made in regards to my births, I made the right choices for my family. I do wish that more people would educate themselves about birth and the different choices, it always helps to be as prepared as possible when you have such important decisions.

  81. Nursing Tank February 18, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Thanks for a great blog. Ther is some really great information on here and I am sure your regular readers (of which I am about to become) get a lot from it. Thankyou

  82. Fran April 16, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    That reminds me of my experience with my first child – just a day after delivery by C-section and I wanted to take a walk down the hall while he was peacefully sleeping in his bassinet – I got down the very short hall and was returning when a nurse reprimanded me – “you are not allowed to leave the baby unattended”, even to walk about 10 feet! Let’s see, he was already outfitted with a security bracelet to match mine, the maternity ward a secured area – visitors needed to be buzzed in – and the baby was in the hospital-provided bassinet. I really have no idea what the danger was, but at that moment I was made to feel like the worst mother in the world, and I had only been at it for 24 hours …


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